How can we help you...

Commemorative Plaques Record Details

Hugh Mercer (1726 - 1777)

Picture of the Palque

Location : Quadrangle, Marischal College, Broad Street

Area : Central Aberdeen

Plaque Type : Yellow

About Hugh Mercer : Jacobite and general in the American Revolutionary War. Born in 1720 in Aberdeen, studied medicine at Marischal College from 1740-4. He was an active Jacobite. In 1745 he joined Bonnie Prince Charlie's army as a surgeon's mate and was present at the battle of Culloden. He fled Britain after defeat at Culloden in 1746 and settled in Pennsylvania. He became friends with George Washington and settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia. At the outset of the Revolutionary War he was appointed as a commander in the revolutionary army. He executed the successful attack against the British at Trenton on 26 December 1776. At the battle of Princeton, 12 January 1777, he was bayoneted and died several days later of his wounds.

More Information : Hugh Mercer was born in 1726 (although the dates 1720 and 1725 have also been given), near Rosehearty, at the manse of Pitsligo. His father was a minister, William Mercer and his mother was Anna Monro. Hugh studied medicine at Marchical College for four years between 1740 and 1744. His father's sympathies lay with the British government and the Hanoverian monarchy but Hugh's lay with the Jacobites. He enlisted in Bonnie Prince Charlie's army as a surgeon's mate and was present at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. He eluded capture afterwards and made his way to America at some point between 1746 and 1747. He settled at the frontier settlement, Conococheague, near what is now Mercerburg Pennsylvania. In about 1755 he enrolled as a soldier and took part in the wars against the French and the American Indians. He took part in the failed expedition against Fort Du Quesne, under General Edward Braddock. On 9 July 1756 he was wounded at Monogahela, and later received a medal from the corporation of Philadelphia. In 1758 he became a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Provincials and was involved in negotiations with the Six Nation Amerindians in 1759. During this period he became friends with George Washington. After the war he moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia and restarted his career in medicine. There his friendship with Washington developed; they were members of the same Masonic Lodge. During this period he married Isabella Gordon, with whom he had four sons and one daughter. In 1775 he was a member of the Fredericksburg Committee of Safety and was increasingly concerned by the direction of British governance of the American colonies. This is shown in that he was one of the members of the Independent Company of the Town of Fredericksburg who on 25 April 1775 sent a letter of concern to Washington about George III's removal of gunpowder from the magazine at Williamsburg. As war broke out with Britain Mercer was keen to be involved on the revolutionary side; although he was at first denied a leadership position as he was a 'northern Briton'. He was subsequently elected Colonel of the Minute Men of Spotsylvania, King George, Stafford and Caroline Counties. On 11 January 1776 he was appointed Colonel to what would become the 3rd Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army, whilst in 1776 at Washington's recommendation he was appointed Brigadier-General in the Armies of the United Colonies. He accompanied Washington in his retreat through New Jersey, a retreat subsequently known as the 'crisis of the Revolution'. On 26 December 1776 he executed the successful attack against Hessian troops at Trenton. He later advised a night march on Princeton: during this battle his horse was disabled and he was knocked to the ground and received several bayonet wounds. On 12 January 1777, several days later, he died of his wounds. His body was interred at Christ Church yard, Philadelphia, but was later moved to Laurel Hill cemetery in 1840. In 1790 Congress voted money for the education of his youngest son and the erection of a monument in his honour. Mercer County, in Kentucky, is named in his honour. Mercer's reputation has always been high in America. Indeed to an extent it could be argued that his memory has not been so honoured, generally, in Scotland or Aberdeen. To an extent this is naturally the case in that so many great and famous people have come from Aberdeen and have made their reputations elsewhere in the world. Today Mercer's apothecary shop in Fredericksburg is a museum.